Unearthed talent - Shawn Loughlin editorial
Sometimes it takes an act of God or some other type of strange intervention for someone to find their true calling in life. And sometimes it almost happens against someone’s will or through tragedy, which can make the journey tough, but fruitful in the end.
When Jess was in the late stages of pregnancy and in the first months of Tallulah’s life, I found myself listening a lot to The Band.
The Band was a five-piece musical outfit that was 80 per cent Canadian. Founded in Toronto, The Band was comprised of Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, Robbie Robertson and Garth Hudson. Helm was the lone American in The Band and Robertson and Hudson are the only members still living.
The Band is probably on my musical Mount Rushmore. They produced simply amazing stuff, so it’s astounding to think they almost spent all their days as a faceless backup band.
Robertson was lauded as a groundbreaking guitarist. He rounded up the musicians who would eventually form The Band and they were off, operating as the backing band for Ronnie “The Hawk” Hawkins. They would eventually move on, backing Bob Dylan on his tumultuous 1966 tour and beyond.
They followed Dylan to Woodstock and worked out of a house called “The Big Pink” and it was there that members of The Band explored their own musical creativity. What followed was some of the greatest albums ever made, culminating in The Last Waltz, one of the greatest concert films of all time. The Band decided to split and held a big final concert to mark their years of work and creativity.
Another example of this is Mac Rebennack, well known as Dr. John, who is widely regarded as one of the best pianists of all time.
Except that he began his career as a guitarist. Rebennack played guitar in the New Orleans area for over 10 years with a number of bands, but his finger was shot and severely injured around 1960 during a pre-concert altercation. From that day forward, Rebennack learned to play the piano and did pretty well for himself, winning numerous Grammy Awards and being enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Another, more modern case of this is that of Dave Grohl, the frontman of the Foo Fighters, one of the biggest bands in the world right now. Grohl, as many of you likely know, was the drummer for Nirvana, which had its own multi-year run as the biggest band in the world before the Foo Fighters came along.
For about three years, Nirvana was the biggest band on the planet and it helped to launch the grunge movement which brought along bands like Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and others. However, during his time with Nirvana, Grohl wrote one song that Nirvana recorded, “Marigold”, which wasn’t even released on any of the band’s albums.
On April 8, 1994, Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain was found dead in his Seattle home and Nirvana immediately ceased to exist.
Grohl grieved and wondered what he’d do with the rest of his life before recording a solo album that would eventually be released as the first Foo Fighters album, though he would play all of the instruments during recording.
He has since emerged as one of the leading singer/songwriters of his generation who is seen as the keeper of the flame of rock and roll at a time when that genre has dipped. But Grohl could have easily spent the rest of his life behind Nirvana’s drum kit, never writing another song after “Marigold”.
It’s not always easy, but life finds a way to draw out your natural talent, ensuring you do the right thing and share it with the world.